Downton Abbey fans love to share the show with their friends and family. The fabulous food lends itself to themed parties. In this post, I include a few specific ideas for planning a Downton party. Whether you are serving 2 or 200 there are plenty of recipe ideas to make in your own Abbey.
In 200 posts over three years, I have posted over 250 recipes for foods which would have been served upstairs and down at Downton Abbey and other great English country houses from the Edwardian era through to the early 1920s. All for the love of Downton and those who love the show. For a full list of dishes by meal or occasion, check out my Recipe Index.
Entertaining is Much Simpler in Season 5
We are now in the 1920s and if you are planning to host a Downton Dinner, you will be relieved to know that family dinners during this period are now only 3 courses…unless of course you are entertaining your fellow aristocrats. And the cocktail party finally comes to Downton. Carson finally gets with the times!
Check my Press Clippings
Don’t just take my word for It: I have given a number of interviews in the national press,and my recipes have been posted in papers around the world. I even prepared Afternoon Tea for national TV. Check out my Press Page.
Why not buy the Book?
Want it all and more in a pretty package? My ebook, Abbey Cooks Entertain, is available for download here (click on the image in the right column), or you can order from Amazon. I also include a cocktail section with authentic cocktails from the era. My 2nd Edition is now available with recipes from Season 1 – 5 with both imperial and metric measurements.
I hope to provide inspiration for fans of all cooking ability who want to take a Downton twist on casual or formal gatherings. It is pretty rare to get rich selling books, but every penny helps offset my food costs so I can continue to share new recipes with you throughout the year.
Cocktails at Downton
The cocktail hour finally comes to Downton late in Season 5, but why not get an early start? In addition to the recipes below, many savoury dishes which are served at Afternoon Tea (check out my Online Guide) are perfect for upscale entertaining.
- Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Canapes
- Eggs Drumkilbo: favorite of the Queen Mum
- Goat Cheese and Fig Canapes on Raisin Bread
- Gougères (cheese puffs)
- Lobster Rissoles
- Salmon Mousse Pinwheels
- Abbey Cooks Magic Savoury Scones
- Easy Smoked Salmon Pinwheels
- Stilton and Fig Tarts
- Truffled Wild Mushroom Tartlets
- Truffled Egg on Toast
- Quinoa Cakes with Lemon Yoghurt Sauce
- Non Alcoholic: fans of John Bates know that he has given up alcohol so you may make a conscious decision to serve non alcoholic drinks in his honor. Some Edwardian standards include:
- Alcoholic: You may recall that Mary warned Sir Richard: “I could ask Carson to make one for you, but I can’t guarantee the result.” But now that Lady Rose is spicing things up at the Abbey feel free to raise a toast to Season 5 and cheer on your favourite characters with a delicious cocktail inspired by the Post-Edwardian era, these ideas were provided by my friends at the.bar.com.
- Lady Mary– The crisp bite of Tanqueray London Dry Gin makes Sassy Lady a great match for Mary’s occasionally acerbic personality. The lemon juice, sugar syrup and champagne make it a cocktail that’s simultaneously tart, complex, and refreshing, but most of all classy and sassy, just like Lady Mary.
- Lady Edith – Divine Unconvention is a mix of delicious bittersweet marmalade with pure, clear Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka and a lively dash of citrus. Serve in a marmalade jar much like Edith the rebel, fighting convention and pomposity.
- Lord Grantham – With its combination of subtle botanics and spitzy tonic, Front a Frontis, a classic mixed drink has Lord Grantham written all over it. Simple, yet elegant, this cocktail makes a great serve for gentlemen’s poker and cigar party.
- The Dowager Countess– Nothing is as memorable as her quips and sharp irony pointed at all those who disregard etiquette. The epitome of tradition and guardian of all aristocratic values, the Countess is all about keeping the status quo at Downton, so let’s toast an Ettican’tin in her honour! With a tasty sour edge and subtle sweetness, this is an upscale cocktail for the discerning drinker.
- Tom Branson – proud of his origins even when he becomes part of the aristocrat family, Tom Branson would enjoy the Good Craic, this Irish whiskey blended with ginger ale, that has a fruity though spicy aftertaste.
The busy life at Downton is even busier downstairs, where all the glamorous dinners and parties are prepared. But what drink would have suited an outing at the fair or a beach picnic for the lovely bunch downstairs?
- The Servants– When it comes to their own entertainment, the servants enjoy easy-to-make and easy-to-share refreshments. Make Do and Blendis a Smirnoff Punch with simple yet tasty ingredients that is best shared!
If you don’t trust Carson to mix drinks, consider wines, spirits and liqueurs for your guests.
- Champagne or sparkling wines would be a great celebratory drink to toast each of the 16 categories.
- Madeira: Edwardians loved madeira, for any fortified wine (sherry, brandy) would be fitting tribute to the Dowager countess.
- Wine: a great choice.
- Scotch: a favorite of the Crawley men, single malt for an upstairs crowd
- Pimm’s: a popular drink in the UK (derived from gin), but might more suitable for the summer. If you do live in the lower states it might be suitable as thirst quencher. Check out my Pimm’s Punch recipe, my favorite.
“Signature” Downton Dishes
If you aren’t prepared to do a great deal of cooking but still want to bring a little bit of Downton to your own viewing party, why not try making one memorable item from the show to share with fellow fans.
- Apple Charlotte: the dish that Sir Anthony Strallon wanted Mrs. Patmore to prepare.
- Asparagus Feuilletés which was Ivy’s first solo dish.
- Asparagus Salad with Champagne-Saffron Viniagrette, I love the way Mrs. Patmore pronounces this dish in Season 3.
- Chicken Broth: stay tuned for the S5 Christmas episode to find out how a simple broth takes centre stage.
- Kidney Souffle: Ethel not only burns the souffle, but drops it on the floor in Season 3. I would not be offended if you took a pass on this one!
- Roast Chicken: the cat got one famous chicken, yours doesn’t have to end up on the floor.
- Crêpe Suzette: Enjoyed by the Crawleys and Isis, the dog in S2.
- Oysters à la Russe while also served on Titanic, this dish makes an appearance in Season 3 as part of Edith’s wedding feast.
- Peach Melba in honor of Dame Nellie Melba.
- Plum Pudding: which the Dowager had the honor of lighting in the Christmas Episode.
- Scrambled Eggs: Quote Mary “I can scramble eggs, that’s about it”
- Strawberry Charlotte Russe: a treat from Season 3 which the Dowager particularly fancied.
- Raspberry Meringue Pudding; from S1, the dish that Mrs. Patmore topped with salt instead of sugar.
- Truffled Egg on Toast: Dish enjoyed by the servants in S3 after Lady Edith was jilted.
- Turkish Delight: in memory of poor Mr. Pamuk.
Downton Servants Hall tribute
Many of our favorite characters live downstairs, so you may wish to invite family and friends over for a dinner of simple, hearty dishes which helped fuel our favorite downstairs team for their long 12+ hour days serving the needs of the Crawley family and the sprawling estate. Convert your Abbey dining room into a servants hall.
- Comfort Foods
- Side Dishes
Tailor your Own Upstairs Menu
With over 250 recipes on my blog, just search for your own combinations of dishes to suit the particular tastes of your own Lords and Ladies. King Edward VII introduced fine French Cuisine to England, and aristocracy enjoyed wonderful food influences from around the British Empire, so enjoy the culinary journey. Now that we are in Season 5, the meals in the 1920s were now typically only 3 courses, unless of course they were hosting a large dinner party for guests.
- Appetizers (see also Afternoon Tea Savouries)
- Main Course
- Baked Haddock with Sharp Sauce (Titanic)
- Baked Ham
- Boeuf Bourgignon
- Calvados-glazed Duck (Titanic)
- Chamomile Tea Salmon
- Chicken Banana Curry
- Chicken Lyonnaise (Titanic)
- Curried Chicken and Rice (Titanic)
- Filet Mignons Lili (Titanic)
- Halibut with Blackberry Sauce
- Kidney Souffle
- Crown Roast of Lamb
- Lamb with Mint Sauce (Titanic)
- Lavender Crusted Halibut
- Lobster with Angel Hair Pasta (NEW)
- Lobster Thermidor (Titanic)
- Lobster Tails Steamed in Beer
- Pâté de Fois Gras (Titanic)
- Poached Salmon with Mousseline Sauce (Titanic)
- Roast Beef with Gravy (Titanic)
- Roasted Squab (Titanic)
- Squash Risotto
- Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- Stuffed Whole Salmon
- Grilled Salmon with Rhubarb Sherry Sauce
- Turkey with Cranberry Sauce (Titanic)
- Walnut Crusted Baked Halibut
- Side Dishes
- Palate Cleansers
If dessert and coffee is more your cup of tea, you could serve traditional dessert and tea favorites. I have also included a few recipes fancied by the Royal Family.
Not all parties have to take place after dark. Why not host an Afternoon Tea? It is the easiest way to entertain and impress your friends. If you can make crustless sandwiches you are off to a good start. Home bakers will be able to master the sweets and my easy scone recipe. Not so skilled in the kitchen? I am sure you are well known for finding the best bakeries in town.
*Downton Reading Suggestions
I have reviewed a few Downton Abbey era books which you may enjoy:
- Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey by Emma Rowley (the latest Downton book)
- Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon
- The World of Downton Abbey, by Jessica Fellowes (great photos from the set)
- The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era with great new pics of S3.
- Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, by The Countess of Carnarvon
- Beyond Downton Abbey, by Deb Hosey, David Stuart (great houses in England)